Kinda big game tonight. TNT has Marv Albert and Chris Webber calling Russell Westbrook’s homecoming in OKC. Over/under how many times Marv says Westbrook is playing for the Thunder?
Sam Presti surprises no one in extending a warm welcome to the former Thunder MVP:
We’ll have more Westbrook coverage this week, but in the meantime you can peruse the blowout we did for Westbrook Week a while back.
The Athletic has collected a bunch of Thunder beat writers from over the years. Anthony Slater, Darnell Mayberry, Fred Katz, Brett Dawson, and Erik Horne all reflect on Westbrook’s time in OKC while they covered the team, respectively.
Ryan Wong (Brodie Ball) on what Russell Westbrook’s commitment to OKC meant: “Westbrook did all he could to help Oklahoma fans forget the sting from Durant’s departure. He led the league in scoring, averaged a triple-double, produced a plethora of game-saving sequences, and won the league MVP honors. He tested the limits of what a professional basketball player could do on a game-by-game basis. The Thunder couldn’t win their first round playoff series against the Rockets but it almost didn’t matter. Durant was gone, but at least we would always have Westbrook.”
Woj reported basically the opposite a while back. I don’t know what it means, but I know Sam Presti wouldn’t take interest in veterans signed to high-dollar, long-term contracts for granted.
Coincidentally, Danilo Gallinari is again listed as out for tonight’s game.3
James Herbert (CBS Sports) says the Thunder are a legit playoff team: “You should see this team in person if you have an opportunity to do so. Paul is masterfully in command, especially in crunch time, but he has also given Shai Gilgeous-Alexander plenty of room to create. The 21-year-old is already playing like a star. With all the draft picks from the Westbrook and George deals, the Thunder might never need to tank. They have Gilgeous-Alexander, they have Paul for now, and they will probably still be a playoff team if they trade either Danilo Gallinari or Dennis Schroder. This puts them in a major position of strength.”
Ben Golliver says Sam Presti has proved to be the winner of the 2019 summer in the latest Open Floor podcast:
Nuria Martinez-Keel (The Oklahoman) reports that Enes Kanter is planning to open a charter school in Oklahoma City: “The school would serve primarily minority students from low-income families from fourth through 12th grade. The school also would educate students from immigrant families with limited English skills. Kanter played for the Thunder from 2014 to 2016 before he was traded to the New York Knicks. “Despite playing for other teams, I continue to return to Oklahoma City to host my annual basketball summer camps and to support programs that serve the OKC children,” Kanter wrote. “Through my foundation, my philanthropic activities extend to all of the cities where I have played for: Utah, Portland, New York, and Boston.””
More good news: Victor Oladipo is scheduled to return to the court late this month, per Shams Charania (The Athletic), and Trae Young worked with a debt relief org to wipe out a cool million in medical bills for struggling Atlanta folks, as reported by WSB-TV.